A doorstop interview in the House of Representatives PHOTO: M. Andri Nurdiansyah
I FEEL so small reading Philip Shenon’s reportage on the moves took by the Obama administration to crack down on WikiLeaks, related to some 70,000 documents on Afghan war they released recently.
It’s not Shenon’s piece that impressed me [although, of course, I still give him my highest respect for securing an exclusive headline], it’s the ‘actor’ in the Shenon’s article.
He is Julian Assange, an Australian-born journalist/programmer, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks who is now believed to be in a big trouble because of the leaks he spread. Assange has been described as someone who doesn’t actually have a real home and that he travels and stays at friends or supporters’ houses around the globe.
Reading how he has been very bold [and yet careless, some critics said] in leaking the documents he received — and that American government is now trying to get him along with hopeful helps from their allies Germany, British, and Australia — left me ponder.
Compares to what Assange has done and is planning to do [releasing some 15,000 more documents], I am absolutely nothing. [this also goes to all war correspondents at across the universe!]
I don’t wake up in the morning for some jets or gunshots or suicide bombs. I don’t travel to dangerous places or conflict zones. I don’t have police or state intelligence agency officials interrogate me in the middle of a night due to some stories I write.
Julian Assange in or before 2006 PHOTO: Wikipedia
I wake up every morning to the sound of the sun, and I walk to the Parliament to meet some sources. I write some stuff, telling people what’s going on, bringing their voices in my writings, criticizing politicians’ wrongdoings etc. I always believe that I am here guarding democracy — now this idea making me laugh, coz compare to Assange?
I send my stories via e-mail, I don’t need to go to the office. I go home at 8 p.m. or 10 p.m. sometimes 11 p.m. when I really got many things to do. But sometimes, I also manage to go home at 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. And I got my two days off each week.
My hardest time? Hmm, wouldn’t say it hardest, but I worked hard during an earthquake reportage.
Compare to Assange?
Some weeks ago I have a discussion with my friend Pipit, she is a journalist from Malang Post in East Java. I was asking her why didn’t she move to Jakarta, to the nation’s central politics, where she could get bigger ‘fishes.’ [And she said 'no' but let's not talk about it now, because it was pretty long discussion and could only be explained in a separated post]
I have this notion that all journalists should be sent and proven survive in the capital, where super politics happen. They should meet various sources, from the bottom level, let’s say, an ice seller to the top official such as the president himself. I thought that that was the thing with journalism, handling all sources and stories.
But now Assange reminds me that that is not enough. Being a journalist is not just about interviewing people and writing their stories. Not only about being critical and vocal. But having this endless enthusiasm, energy, dreams, faith and fight for what you [and people/general knowledge] believe is right. You try to get exclusive interviews and follow up important issues [this 'exclusive' thing also, could be discussed in another post]
A press conference PHOTO: M. Andri Nurdiansyah
That you’re not wake up in the morning wishing that the day could end soon and your two or three stories could be filed on time. You’re not writing stories because it’s an obligatory, but because you really have something important to report.
I am not saying this over my naivety, but my faith in myself, that I really love and couldn’t picture myself doing something else but journalism. And I understand that saying things is way easier than doing them — of course it is difficult, otherwise we would have millions of Assange now.
All I’m saying is that we can answer challenges and that we always have a room to improve, because yes, you and I could be the next Assange!
Oh well, stop calling me delusional! Besides keeping myself improved, I just wish that in the next ten years I still have the same enthusiasm. And that I don’t feel embarrass toward myself realizing I no longer have the spirit I possessed today.